Head to Oakland’s Pomella for Flavorful Mediterranean FareAug 08, 2022 03:43PM ● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
Fans of Piedmont Avenue’s Ba-Bite were bereft when the Israeli-focused restaurant closed nearly four years ago. Many could not imagine life without owner Mica Talmor’s creamy hummus, her butternut squash salad, and tantalizing desserts. But sorrow soon turned to elation when it was revealed that Talmor would open a newer version of the popular eatery. For two years now, Pomella, just down the street from Ba-Bite’s former location, has delivered the Mediterranean flavors for which Talmor’s fans clamor.
Named for the pomegranate that is part of Talmor’s business identity, the Pomella moniker symbolizes a new beginning, a new year, and prosperity. Having opened in 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, and having not only survived but succeeded, Pomella, its location, and its name have proven to be prophetic. Talmor could have chosen any number of regions in which to open Pomella, but she opted to stay close to those who know and love both her and her cuisine that features the flavors of her native Israel, with some Middle East and North Africa flair.
“The thing I know how to do best is feed people,” said Talmor. “It’s not only my livelihood, it’s who I am.”
Located across from Kaiser near the intersection of Piedmont Ave. and MacArthur Blvd., and adjacent to popular Mexican restaurant Doña, Pomella is known to offer some of the best Mediterranean fare in the East Bay. Glowing reviews mention the falafel, the composed salads and the ever-changing desserts for which Talmor has a special affinity. (Also a trained pastry chef, she celebrates each of her employees’ birthdays by learning their favorite dessert, making/baking it for them, and then offering the creation to her customers, while it lasts.)
Take-out business is as brisk as the order-at-counter-and-take-a-seat side of things, where guests can enjoy their meal within the small indoor dining room or al fresco on the spacious, covered outdoor patio. Fan favorites include the Cheese-Stuffed Falafel, the Lafa Wrap made with homemade Lafa flatbread, hummus, cabbage salad, Shirazi, lemon-herb sauce, tahini and choice or protein, and the Rice Plate with either saffron rice and grilled veggies, or Majadra style with rice and lentils, fried onion and pine nuts. Both versions come with creamy yogurt-tahini sauce and choice of veggie (eggplant or cauliflower) or protein. Tagines & Stews offer warm comfort, and a bevy of Composed Salads feature the best of each season.
Talmor also offers ‘off-menu’ items featuring the absolute freshest ingredients of that day – such as a simple yet exceedingly piquant Shirazi salad of tomato, cucumber, scallion, mint, lemon juice and olive oil. Beverage options include a selection of not-easily-found canned beers and wines, beer-on-tap, Kombucha, housemade lemonades and sangrias, and strong and earthy Yemeni coffee, for which Kaiser employees pilgrimage across the street mid-day in search of afternoon sustenance.
“Pomella allows us a short respite away from our work's chaos," said fan Colleen Monasevitch, Kaiser Oakland’s Emergency Department assistant nurse manager. "It's a welcoming place where we can enjoy great, healthy food, and an amazing coffee drink that refuels us for the rest of our shifts.”
Talmor and Pomella also host special pop-ups, the announcements of which can be found via the restaurant’s social channels. Recent star collaborators included the MISTER SOFTEE truck, serving classic soft serve ice cream, and handcrafted D.R.E.A.M Doughnuts.
Pomella, 3770 Piedmont Ave., Unit B, Oakland
11am to 8:00pm daily
Adjacent paid parking lot, and plenty of street parking
Main image: Hummus. Photo by Douglas Despres